School dedicates new sand volleyball court
The new Merle Norman Sand Volleyball Stadium was dedicatedÂ Thursday in front of a crowd of athletes, students and members of the athletic department.
The stadium was named after Merle Norman, the founder of Merle Norman cosmetics and the aunt of alumnus Jack Nethercutt, who spoke at the ceremony.
âWe help women look and feel the best that they can, and I think that itâs fitting that we contribute for womenâs athletic teams where women can shine,â Nethercutt said.
Students, athletes, parents and donors all gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the three-court volleyball stadium and watched the stadiumâs first match between alumna and Olympic silver medalists April Ross and Jennifer Kessy.
Prior to the construction of the stadium, the volleyball team had to commute to the Annenberg Community Beach house in Santa Monica for their practices. Captain Kirby Burnham said that having the stadium on campus will make it much more convenient for the team and that he hopes that it will help the budding sport gain more attention on campus.
âWe are in a prime location between the McKay Center and the Galen Center,â Burnham said. âHopefully, we will be able to build a bigger fan base and our fellow students will come out and support us.â
The teamâs coach, Anna Collier, said that the new stadium is fitting for the newest womenâs team.
âSand volleyball is an emerging new sport, so we are lucky that we get a new stadium thatâs not just remodeled or revamped,â Collier said. âIts opening reaffirms our commitment to our women athletes.â
Though womenâs sand volleyball isnât recognized by the NCAA, the organization sponsors it as an emerging sport. Ten more womenâs sand volleyball college teams are needed to reach the 40-team NCAA requirement to hold a natonal championship.
Steve Nam, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering, came to watch the Olympic athletes compete and taste some of the free food offered by food truck Pie nâ Burger. Nam said the new stadium on campus fits in well with the student body.
âA lot of people here at the school play volleyball, so I think that it will be really nice if the student body gets to use it,â Nam said.
Though Manrique Gomez, a senior double majoring in political science and cinematic arts, has never been to a beach volleyball game, she said that would change after seeing the stadium.
âI feel like beach volleyball isnât really recognized at the college level and bringing in this stadium might take it one step further to being recognized by the NCAA,â Gomez said.
Some students said the new stadium represented the universityâs commitment to growing its athletic program.
Nicole Ludena, a freshman majoring in civil engineering who played with the Trojan Marching Band during the opening ceremony, stayed after her performance to enjoy the game.
âIÂ love sand volleyball, so I am glad that this is now here in the school,â Ludena said. âI think that it will continue making our school stand out among other universities.â
The womenâs sand volleyball team will break in the new stadium in their season-opening competition against Florida State and Loyola Marymount on Sunday.